Blending beauty with MUA Angie Parker
Originally a fine artist, Angie Parker transitioned her creativity from paint to make-up by working with famed MUAs like Mary Greenwell and Diane Kendal. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, i-D, and Vanity Fair, and in campaigns for Bergdorf Goodman, Barney’s and Opening Ceremony, among others. Having collaborated with some of the best photographers in the business such as Patrick Demarchelier and Giles Bensimon, she continues to push the envelope with her artistry.
LM: What inspired you to become an MUA?
AP: I was always an artist in school excelled at every art medium and English. I always loved blending, even in my drawings and artwork. After finishing at the London College of Fashion, I started working in the music industry, and then, after about a year, got a break in fashion by assisting Mary Greenwall. I even did a few projects with Pat McGrath as she was coming up and rising to fame herself.
LM: You started working in the make-up industry over 20 years ago. What was it like when you first started?
AP: When I first started in London, it was 1993, and magazines like Dazed were beginning. Edward [Enninful] was fashion editor-at-large at iD, and street style and fashion was making waves in London. Designers such as McQueen were blowing up, and the music was a big part of our culture with Oasis and Blur. It was a fun time to be in the UK.
I loved doing all the shows back then. There were fewer assistants and you felt like a vital part of the team. All the models came to you and we were all a close-knit team. Mary [Greenwall] asked me to go to New York to do my first fashion week in 1994, and I fell in love with the city and returned the following season to stay!
LM: Does your work have a signature look or style?
AP: I would like to think I have a common theme to all my work. Whether more natural or much more cutting edge, [a model’s] skin is always transparent and flawless, and everything looks real to the eye. I love to play with color and textures, and yet still end up blending everything to perfection. It’s rare you find a hard edge on something I do unless it is an essential part of the statement.
LM: What is your philosophy with regards to beauty?
AP: I do not think my philosophy to beauty is any different to that in other parts of my life. I use products with few chemicals, that are organic, natural, and cruelty-free. You should treat your skin like it’s the most expensive item in your closet. Equally, I eat clean and healthy foods without harming animals and be mindful of packaging, always using refills where possible.
Drink as much water as you can throughout the day, and sleep as much as you can. Take time out of each day to meditate or walk through nature, and most importantly learn to love what you see in the mirror with authentic love. Not because someone else is loving you, but purely because you look at yourself, and enjoy yourself, and enjoy yourself as much with make-up on as without!
LM: During your career, you have worked with so many talented individuals. Are there any shoots or shows that stand-out for you?
AP: I have had so many happy moments - moments of joy and gratitude to date. I feel lucky to be doing something I love to do. It is more challenging as I age, as there are so many talented artists coming up, and so many things I would still like to achieve. I feel my most stand out moments are with the people I love in a beautiful setting - an ideal location where I would never have been able to take myself at that time. I can always look back and have known that moment with those people, sort of like a bucket list thing.
Shooting on safari in Tanzania with lions, elephants, and crocodiles. Being in the Australian outback with hairstylists and models who are good friends, and just being blown away by the views. Or in some temple in Hong Kong shooting a gorgeous girl and feeling like we were all too young to appreciate the spiritual moment.
Early on in my career when I assisted Linda Cantello in Paris, we would work on shows such as Yoji Yamamoto and I would feel like we had all just died and gone to a magical kingdom. Also being around hair genius’ like Julian D’ys! I just was always blown away by the shows in Paris, and even now still think about moving there to bask in their glory.
LM: In such a dynamic and competitive industry, where do you continue to find inspiration for your work?
AP: I am always inspired by fashion. If I can get into a studio with a fantastic team, and we can all sit and pow-wow together, inspirational images come out. [I can use ]new products and colors I have just bought, or been given, and I feel like a child again, like being back in school creating art.
LM: Beauty Instagram profiles have become a significant influence on the industry. How important are social media platforms for you?
AP: I have to say it is almost part of our everyday world now. As much as digital photography changed the game, Instagram has even more. I have to be careful here what I say, as I don't want to offend.
There are twice as many artists now because of social media, and it has allowed the beauty industry to evolve to sell more products, and because of that, I can't complain. It has, however, taken the artistry out of what we do. [It seems] anyone can call themselves an artist if they have a profile and enough followers. In as much as bloggers took over at the shows, Instagram artists are getting contracts and creating a world of beauty on social media. So it's tricky as in some ways, it's a Pandora's box, perhaps.
LM: We love Beauty5ives.com. Can you tell us some more about this project?
AP: Thanks, I love Beauty5ives also! I wanted to start a line of products that were just the essentials for women- natural, good for the environment, and color curated for each skin shade. The products that you cannot do without! I narrowed it down to 5, and then realized I needed to brand it and started the blog. Now I am interviewing people who interest me, not just because of their beauty regiment or background, but also because of what else they are doing in their lives. I find myself enjoying interviewing people as much as doing their make-up.
I would consider making Beauty5ives a small segment on TV, [discussing] beauty routines and everyone's top 5 products, and then segue into other parts of their lives. However, the idea is still to launch the product line in the next two years; we are just looking for the right partners and working on that right now.
LM: Are there any upcoming projects that you can share with us?
AP: I am always working on personal editorials and love producing beauty and fashion combinations. So few fashion stories shoot beauty anymore, so I am collaborating with friends and colleagues to do stories that have great fashion moments but also focus on the beauty side (hair and make-up). I just finished one at my house for a new publication called Billy Magazine with the photographer, Barron Claiborne.
My next project is with a friend and her magazine, [that will feature] some ballerinas. This will be happening some time at the end of summer. I am also leaning back to London now as my daughter is almost 20 years old. I want to spend more time there working, doing interviews, blogging, and getting back into the London Groove!
Interview by Linda Mateljan